- a flatterer who, having extolled the happiness of Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, was seated at a banquet with a sword suspended over his head by a single hair to show him the perilous nature of that happiness.
- sword of Damocles, any situation threatening imminent harm or disaster.
Examples from the Web for damocles
Then as now, the majority of Americans had little interest in examining the nuclear sword of Damocles their fear had wrought.How a War-Weary Vet Created ‘The Twilight Zone’
November 13, 2014
Of course, if we can mix our classical references, Russia has its Sword of Damocles to cut this Gordian Knot.Ravenous Russia? Thirsty Crimea.
Oleg Shynkarenko, Will Cathcart
May 4, 2014
Did he understand that he would now have to live with a sword—not of Damocles but of polonium—hanging over his head?The Mystery of Mikhail Khodorkovsky
January 2, 2014
The United States insists that the option of force—a sword of Damocles—be included in any Security Council resolution.Did Obama Just Change His Luck on Syria?
September 11, 2013
But that particular sword of Damocles has floated off into the ether.Obama’s Social Security Gambit
April 9, 2013
But he knew all too bitterly under what a sword of Damocles he was standing.Joan of Arc of the North Woods
The sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, to make them remember.Space Prison
And Damocles knew the sword was there, or there'd have been no point in it.Tristram of Blent
Here, indeed, was the dread descent of the sword on Damocles.My New Curate
Above the head of every editor the law of libel hangs like the sword of Damocles.The History of "Punch"
M. H. Spielmann
- classical myth a sycophant forced by Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, to sit under a sword suspended by a hair to demonstrate that being a king was not the happy state Damocles had said it wasSee also Sword of Damocles
Word Origin and History for damocles
courtier of Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse; his name in Greek means literally "fame of the people," from demos, damos "people" (see demotic) + -kles "fame," a common ending in Greek proper names (e.g. Sophocles, Pericles), from PIE *klew-es, from root *kleu- "to hear" (see listen). To teach Damocles how a tyrant lives, Dionysius seated him at a banquet with a sword suspended above his head by a single hair.